While Tyrants Sleep: Canary Wharf at Night, a set on Flickr.
On November 14, 2012, as I explained in my previous photo set, “Curious Insomnia: A Journey through Deptford and Millwall to Canary Wharf at Night,” I decided, at 1am, to cycle from my home in Brockley, in south east London, down through Deptford and Greenwich, and through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the Isle of Dogs, where I cycled through Millwall, via the former docks and South Quay Plaza (and the DLR station) to Canary Wharf, the multi-towered financial centre and underground shopping complex that has been sucking the lifeblood out of the rest of London since it overcame its early wobbles under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and became a magnet for dodgy unregulated bankers and obsessive materialists during the reign of Tony Blair.
It is, in fact, a place which, as Owen Hatherley explained in an excellent article for the Guardian last year (which I also drew on here), is responsible for “the most spectacular expression of London’s transformation into a city with levels of inequality that previous generations liked to think they’d fought a war to eliminate.” Read the rest of this entry »
At 1 am on November 14, 2012, I decided to take a late night bike ride to Canary Wharf, the modern mutant offspring of the City of London. The City is an ancient lawless zone, but it is now rivalled by the lawlessness of the Docklands project initiated under Margaret Thatcher, which expanded hugely under Tony Blair.
Canary Wharf, which I first photographed here, fascinates and repels me. Its towers, with their horribly ostentatious show of wealth, and their disdain for even vaguely concealing how much money can be made through devious behaviour that ought to be illegal — and in many cases is — are visible from almost everywhere, and are particularly dominant from all over south east London, where I live. However, while the buildings are, in some ways, architecturally impressive, that is not all that calls out across the miles when One Canada Square and its phallic companions are glimpsed from afar. The wealth they display is also meant to intimidate and/or dazzle those mere mortals — the majority of us, in other words — who earn in a lifetime what well-paid bankers take home in a year.
I’ll be analysing Canary Wharf further in the article following this one, which features the photos I took in the heart of Canary Wharf. In contrast, this set features the start of my journey, through Deptford and Greenwich, including Deptford High Street, which stands in total contrast to the wealth and rarefied shopping malls of Canary Wharf (which I photographed here). I then cycled through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and took photos in Millwall, and also of Millwall Inner Dock, South Quay DLR station and the mainly residential developments around them, including the Pan Peninsula towers, luxury high-rises that deliberately scorn the ordinary humans below, with their promotional material celebrating those who “inhabit a private universe.”
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Poplar Dock, Canary Wharf and Greenwich on the Eve of the Olympics, a set on Flickr.
This photo set is the 82nd in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, and is the last of five sets taken on July 25 last year, a wonderful sunny day two days before the Olympic Games began, when I cycled east from Whitechapel along the A11 — Mile End Road, which becomes Bow Road and crosses the A12 on the way to the Olympic Park along Stratford High Street. I then cycled around the perimeter of the Olympic Park, up to Leyton on the eastern side, then along the A12 at the north, and then back south via Hackney Wick and Old Ford on the east, then through Bow, Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, stopping in on Greenwich before returning home to Brockley.
The first two sets recording this journey were “Adventures in History: The Mile End Road,” and “From Mile End to Bow and Stratford on a Summer’s Day,” canned the third set — “The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford” (and see here too) — was published last July, to capture some of the Olympic fervour at the time — even though I was extremely cynical about the outrageous and unaudited cost of the Olympics and the hideous patriotism milked by the government to deflect attention from its own evil heart, and even though I almost always prefer the fruits of cooperation to the chest-thumping Darwinism of competitive sport. Read the rest of this entry »
Christmas in London, 2012, a set on Flickr.
Best wishes for the holiday season to those following my work, or to anyone who has just stumbled across it. This is a selection of Christmas-themed photos that I’ve taken over the last month during my journeys around London, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began in May this year.
This is the 69th set of my London photos, and it was fun to go through all the photos I’ve been accumulating from my almost daily journeys, large and small, over the last month, picking out those with a Christmas theme — from locations in north London, in central London and the City, on the Isle of Dogs and at various places in south east London, where I live — including my home in Brockley, and also Blackheath, Camberwell, Deptford, Greenwich, Honor Oak, Lewisham and Rotherhithe. Read the rest of this entry »
Blue Skies and Golden Light: The River Thames in September, a set on Flickr.
After my recent five-part series of photo sets from south east London — my home turf — in November, I promised to publish some photos from September, from the huge archive of photos I’ve been building up over the last five months, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and also to publish photos from further afield in London.
In the first of five previously unpublished sets from September (and the 66th set overall in my London photo project) the photos here are from a journey I made by bike on September 6, a gloriously sunny day, when I took my son Tyler and his friend Louis to the South Bank and back, travelling there via Greenwich Foot Tunnel and the Isle of Dogs, and returning via Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, a great circular tour of the River Thames to the east of central London, which involves two of my very favourite journeys in the whole of London. Read the rest of this entry »
Shops, Ships and Union Jacks: A Surreal Tour Around Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.
This photo set — the 60th in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — is the last in a series of five sets recording a journey I made one sunny day in July, from my home in south London, through New Cross and Bermondsey by bike, across Tower Bridge, and up through Shadwell to Commercial Road, which I followed — with many fruitful deviations — along its whole length, to the junction where West India Road bears off towards Canary Wharf, and Commercial Road becomes East India Road.
As my camera battery had run out, but I couldn’t bear not having a working camera, I decided to find one in Canary Wharf, which was more difficult than I expected, as the shop I needed was some distance from where I parked my bike, through a series of shopping malls whose scale surprised me, as they now constitute another city entirely. Read the rest of this entry »
Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun, a set on Flickr.
This is the 44th set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and is the second set recording a journey I made, one sunny Sunday in July, with my wife and son from our home in south east London, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, up the western shore of the Isle of Dogs, which is infested with high-rise housing developments, and on to Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping. Here the great wharves that dealt with the imports of Britain’s global trade during the heyday of Empire, and of the London docks, were converted into apartments during the Docklands development programme in the 1980s and 1990s. The first set of photos is here.
Money doesn’t scream, the way it does in Canary Wharf, in the narrow strips of former wharves in Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping, although obviously most of the wharf living is aimed squarely at the rich, and elements of this are obvious — the matt grey Aston Martin that, for instance, almost ran me over at one point, driven by some young idiot who obviously believed the words of Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel: “Matte cars are cool, they come across as a bit aggressive.” Read the rest of this entry »
Sunny Sunday: The Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.
In my quest to catch up on posting some of the photos that I didn’t manage to post before my family holiday in Italy in August, this set and another to follow record a glorious Sunday in July when, with my family, I cycled from our home in Brockley, in south east London, down to Greenwich, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and along the western shore of the Isle of Dogs to Limehouse, and then on to Wapping, where our objective was to visit the Wapping Project, an art gallery and restaurant housed in Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, which was built in 1890 and closed in 1977.
This is the 43rd set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which is progressing extremely well, despite my inability to post the results to keep up with my photographic journeys, as I have 160 sets still to post, with more on the way on an almost daily basis. Come rain or shine, I am out on my bike, having discovered, after my illness last year, when I gave up smoking after 29 years, that being healthy, and relentlessly exploring this fascinating and sometimes infuriating city I live in, by bike, is the perfect antidote to years of imperilling my health by smoking like a madman and working obsessively on Guantánamo. Not that I’ve given up on Guantánamo, of course, as I still write regularly about the ongoing horrors of indefinite detention for the men still held there, and, just this week, published an exclusive article based on notes from a lawyer’s meeting with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, which Shaker wanted to be made available to me. Read the rest of this entry »
Green London: Crystal Palace, the Isle of Dogs, Ladywell and Brockley, a set on Flickr.
My 42nd photo set in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike brings together a few disparate elements, photographed in July, and united under the umbrella title of “Green London” — firstly, a few photos from Mudchute Farm and Mudchute Park, on the Isle of Dogs, which I had put aside when I posted a set of photos of a journey around Canary Wharf to which these were the green prelude.
The second group of photos — 12 photos of Crystal Palace — were taken on a rainy afternoon, and had been sitting around until I decided to join them up with the “Green London” photos — not just the Mudchute idyll, but also some photos taken locally to me — in Ladywell Fields, a popular spot by the River Ravensbourne, which, further downstream, feeds into the River Thames at Deptford Creek, and on Hilly Fields, the wonderful hill-top park near my home, with its wonderful views out over south east London and beyond, and, at strategic points, its glimpses of Canary Wharf and the O2. Read the rest of this entry »
A Journey Across the Thames on the Olympics Cable Car, a set on Flickr.
On August 6, as I explained in a previous article, Jamaican Independence and a Giant Tent: Photos of a Visit to the Olympic Site at the O2, featuring photos and commentary, I cycled along the river from Deptford to Greenwich peninsula with my wife and son, to visit the O2 (recorded in that previous set of photos), and also to travel on the Emirates Air Line, the cable cars across the Thames, which run from North Greenwich, near the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) to the Royal Docks. The visit was for fun, but was also part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I have been recording here since June.
Intended to transport Olympics visitors from one venue to another, the Emirates Air Line project — named after the Emirates airline company, the biggest sponsor of the cable cars, who provided £36 million in a ten-year sponsorship deal — also provides a useful way of crossing the river at a point where there are few other options — just the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the west, and the Woolwich Ferry to the east — and it is both remarkable and commendable that bicycles are also allowed. Read the rest of this entry »
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
Email Andy Worthington
Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist: